Finding the Lines

Lines have been on my mind again lately.

Cross the line.

There are lines in everything, it seems. We often don’t know what they are until a line is crossed. For example, you have had a great working relationship with your boss of two years and then at a holiday party he greets you with a hug and lingers a bit too long. You noticed. A line was crossed.

The same with personal space. Each culture has what is considered a personal space bubble. We don’t think about it at all until someone gets a little bit too close. They encroach our space. A line has been crossed.

Walk the line.

The origin of “walk the line” refers to convict exercise yards (circa 1700’s to 1920’s). The prisoners had to walk around in a wide circle on a yellow (sometimes white) line painted on the ground for as long as exercise time permitted. If any prisoner went [too] far astray from the line he was punished. HERE

The idiomatic definition of “walk the line”  is to behave in an authorized or socially accepted manner, especially as prescribed by law or morality; to exercise self-control. … (idiomatic, US, education) HERE
Fine line.
This is the best term for what I have been thinking about this week. Fine line: To maintain a fragile balance between one extreme and another. i.e.: good and evil, sanity and insanity, decency and decadence, etc. HERE

Here are fine lines I have faced this week:

The fine line between

  • experiencing the benefits of technology without the negatives.
  • having a great relationship with someone without investing too much time, or too little.
  • telling the truth without offending.
  • expressing feelings without being destructive.
  • being a parent and being a friend.
  • being a good friend to so many diverse people.
  • knowing where and how much to serve amongst so many choices.
  • time spent reading our Bible versus praying.
  • doing well at our job while not neglecting family or self-care.
  • exercising for health while not exercising too much or too little.
  • eating well without going overboard on time or budget, and without infringing on the ability to enjoy a meal with friends that breaks eating preferences.
  • getting administrative tasks done without sacrificing proper relationships with people.
  • spending money without spending too much or too little.
  • improving our home while being content with what we have.

How do we detect fine lines?

By their very nature, fine lines are hard to determine. Think about the fine lines on our aging faces that go undetected to the naked eye but once the light hits just right, there they are.

It’s not about finding balance: Finding the line is different than finding balance. Not every day can be balanced. A family member needs all of our time one day, or most of our time for a season. God prompts us to spend a lot of money on someone in need even though a financial advisor may caution us. We may be called to keep going in the midst of being exhausted, when a nap is not possible and isn’t even something we should do.

It’s not about what people think: We can’t depend on people to tell us about crossed lines either. Plenty of the heroes of the faith did not “walk the line.” Their lives broke all kinds of “socially accepted manner.” Abraham set out with his family not knowing where he was going (Can you hear friends telling him he had crossed the line between being careless and responsible?) Noah built an ark while people probably mocked him the entire time. Job was spoken to by friends for chapters on end and then we learn at the end his friends were wrong. Even Jesus was thought to be a fool by many and crossed the line on way too many Sabbaths to suit church leaders, for example.

God’s Word detects fine lines.

God’s Word can really get in there and divide things clearly for us, like a surgeon’s scalpel. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Soft hearts detect fine lines.

Only Jesus can let us know. We don’t have to know them ahead of time, but if our hearts are soft we can catch the crossed line immediately. And our hearts can only remain soft if we are walking closely with Him and there is no buildup of sin because we are living a life of consistent forgiveness and confession. The Spirit of God abides fully in a clean heart: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

As I review the definitions above, I have to get ready for the reality that walking by faith in God will not allow me to “walk the line.” Sometimes, maybe often, I will go against what society determines is proper. Rather, I will live mostly in the world of soft-hearted detection of “crossed fine lines.” Deep down where Jesus and I connect in places the world never sees, He will show me the way as I get to each next step of faith.

Same for you.

Explanation: I have known Margee for 38 years. She loves her family, every person she meets, flowers, and Jesus most of all. She had major surgery on Friday and faces a long recovery. She has been traveling the cancer journey with bravery and joy. Her faith has remained strong. Would you please pause right now and pray that her recovery goes well? Thank you.

© 2021 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.


6 Responses

  1. Laurie: you honor me with putting my pics in your post & asking people to pray for me. Thankyou! You have been a faithful, truth telling, brutally honest yet soft hearted friend. I love you dearly. So thankful that Jesus had us at Ohio state back in 1983-84. Loved this post about fine lines! ♥️

    1. It is an honor to participate in supporting you. Memories of Ohio State remain vivid. You are still the same person you were then, even more so.

  2. Because of your love for Margee, I have cared for her from a distance too, prayed for her in her fight against cancer, and did so enjoy meeting her on one of your birthdays—a vivacious, joy filled, God loving, scone making friend!!

    Walking lines with you…… God, make our ❤️s sensitive to your every nudge!

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I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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